As the first day of school skulks closer and kids younger than 12 remain unvaccinated, we’re approaching zero hour on figuring out how to keep our kids safe this fall. The CDC recommends that children ages 2 and older wear masks when indoors. And, while the fine folks at the CDC may not be the ones fielding complaints about sweaty faces and fogged glasses, they are most likely right.
As most experts assert, the best masks are masks kids will actually put on and keep on. Ideally, those masks will have a snug fit, include a few layers and have some filtration. One quick note: You may see the term "FDA registered" on sites selling masks. FDA registered simply means that owners of businesses who produce or distribute masks have registered with the FDA. It doesn’t mean the masks are approved by the FDA. It also doesn’t mean that the masks aren’t great choices.
To help you sort through the hundreds of mask ads that pop up all over the internet, here are several solid options.
Weddingstar’s three-ply, filter-pocketed masks come in vibrant colors and designs. They are adjustable and washable, not to mention the most whimsical reusable option on our list.
If you need a specialty mask for your child who has sensory issues, wears glasses or could use an embedded clear panel to promote nonverbal communication, Rafi Nova may have the mask you’ve been looking for. Their thoughtful designs can help keep kids safe who would otherwise find mask wearing difficult.
The New York Times Wirecutter recently named Enro the No. 1 mask for kids. As a result, the company's mask stock is low, but more inventory is coming. Enro's masks boast PM0.1 filtering and come in a range of different colors and sizes so you can find the best fit for your child.
Popular Happy Masks were created by a family who weathered the SARS epidemic in Taiwan and brought their technology to the United States. These masks feature a “parrot beak” shape to make talking, laughing and breathing a bit easier. The masks also have adjustable ear loops for a perfect fit. Like Enro masks, Happy Masks are experiencing huge demand, but new shipments arrive at its facility twice per week. If the company doesn’t have availability when you visit the site, check back.
We know reusable washable masks are best for the environment, but sometimes you have to go with disposable for practical reasons. Green Supply offers kid-sized, five-layered KN95 masks in a variety of colors and with an adjustable nose bridge.
Vida maintains 95–99 percent efficiency for its kids’ masks made of breathable, non-woven material, including two meltblown layers. And we love that Vida includes a prepaid label to return used masks for recycling.
4C Air makes nano masks that claim up to 99 percent filtration efficiency of microscopic airborne particles. They are recommended for kids older than 3 and weigh less than an ounce. You can sign up for alerts to be notified when these thin and breathable masks are back in stock.
For an adorable take on disposables, Maskc face masks are available with animal, sport and superhero patterns, among others. They offer a breathable, three-ply construction with soft fabric and comfortable ear loops.
A few years ago, we never could’ve predicted that facial masks would rank with binders and colored pencils as necessary back-to-school supplies, but here we are. As we head into yet another strange season of the coronavirus pandemic, masks remain our strongest defense for precious kids who can’t yet get vaccinations.
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